altCold weather is upon us.  Everywhere you look it’s evident, from the trees turning color and dropping their leaves to the pumpkins on your neighbor’s doorstep.  Halloween decorations and temps in the low 50's – all signaling autumn is here.  What better time to drop by your favorite bar or sit by a fire and drink a glass of the season’s best hard cider?   Traditionally associated with England, ciders and perries (pear cider) have been a staple for centuries.  Call for a glass of Cider in an English pub and you can find a range of choices, from a clean, sweet, amber-colored, sparkling drink, to a complex, dry, and cloudy, oak-laden brew.  Many will argue that few beers can match good cider for lightness and complexity.   In early America, cider was considered “the drink of the people” from farmers and laborers to the founding fathers.  Ciders were such a part of early American life that even today you’ll find cider apple trees along the roadsides of New England.  The Temperance Movement and Prohibition were very hard times for brewers and cider producers and ultimately none of the cider producers of the time survived.  With the birth of the craft beer industry in the U.S. in the 80’s and 90’s interest in traditional hard ciders began to increase and we saw smaller regional cider coapplesmpanies begin to crop up around the country.  These companies were centered in New England, the traditional heart of cider country, but people in states like Oregon, Washington and Idaho which also have sizable apple harvests were rediscovering the craft as well. Hard core enthusiasts will insist that real "Cyder" must be from the first pressing of Cider Apples, a descendant of the Crab Apple.  It must be fermented in its own yeast and unpasteurized.  It’s worth noting that Cyder with a “Y” is an old distinction between the “best” first pressing of the apples and Cider with an “I” represents the second pressing and any after.  To make a traditional cider, the apples are pressed to make pulp and the apple pulp is covered in cloth and formed in a block.  These blocks are piled and layered under a press to form a "cheese".  After the juice has been squeezed out, it is left to ferment naturally in oak barrels - then blended to the cider maker’s taste.  Traditional ciders average 6-8 percent alcohol, but there are a variety of ciders out there with a varying ABV.   For American distributors, retailers, restaurateurs and Chefs cider has been an enigma.  The lack of a sound understanding of cider and its nuances has led to it being marketed as a beer alternative, usually in competition with products like Smirnoff Ice or Bacardi Breezers.  This is unfortunate.  What they miss are the amazing range of flavors and styles in cider and how they can perfectly pair with some of the toughest dishes out there.  From, a hard sparkling cider paired with a fresh salad, to a crisp light cider paired with spicy Asian cuisine, hard cider fills the food pairing niche between wine and beer. If you’re interested in exploring the world of ciders, you’re very fortunate to have an ever widening choice of import and domestic ciders to choose from.  A noteworthy player in the American Craft Cider arena is Blue Mountain Cider Company with their Farmstead Hard Cider and Dry Creek Hard Cider.  For Imports, it gets no better than Aspall Dry English Cyder made with a blend of "base" cyders and light sparkle.  For the "serious" side of cider, look no further than Domaine Dupont Cidre Bouche Brut, an old-school French cider maker. Cold weather is upon us.  Everywhere you look it’s evident, from the trees turning color and dropping their leaves to the pumpkins on your neighbor’s doorstep.  Halloween decorations and temps in the low 50's – all signaling autumn is here.  What better time to drop by your favorite bar or sit by a fire and drink a glass of the season’s best hard cider?   Traditionally associated with England, ciders and perries (pear cider) have been a staple for centuries.  Call for a glass of Cider in an English pub and you can find a range of choices, from a clean, sweet, amber-colored, sparkling drink, to a complex, dry, and cloudy, oak-laden brew.  Many will argue that few beers can match good cider for lightness and complexity.   In early America, cider was considered “the drink of the people” from farmers and laborers to the founding fathers.  Ciders were such a part of early American life that even today you’ll find cider apple trees along the roadsides of New England.  The Temperance Movement and Prohibition were very hard times for brewers and cider producers and ultimately none of the cider producers of the time survived.  With the birth of the craft beer industry in the U.S. in the 80’s and 90’s interest in traditional hard ciders began to increase and we saw smaller regional cider companies begin to crop up around the country.  These companies were centered in New England, the traditional heart of cider country, but people in states like Oregon, Washington and Idaho which also have sizable apple harvests were rediscovering the craft as well. Hard core enthusiasts will insist that real "Cyder" must be from the first pressing of Cider Apples, a descendant of the Crab Apple.  It must be fermented in its own yeast and unpasteurized.  It’s worth noting that Cyder with a “Y” is an old distinction between the “best” first pressing of the apples and Cider with an “I” represents the second pressing and any after.  To make a traditional cider, the apples are pressed to make pulp and the apple pulp is covered in cloth and formed in a block.  These blocks are piled and layered under a press to form a "cheese".  After the juice has been squeezed out, it is left to ferment naturally in oak barrels - then blended to the cider maker’s taste.  Traditional ciders average 6-8 percent alcohol, but there are a variety of ciders out there with a varying ABV.   For American distributors, retailers, restaurateurs and Chefs cider has been an enigma.  The lack of a sound understanding of cider and its nuances has led to it being marketed as a beer alternative, usually in competition with products like Smirnoff Ice or Bacardi Breezers.  This is unfortunate.  What they miss are the amazing range of flavors and styles in cider and how they can perfectly pair with some of the toughest dishes out there.  From, a hard sparkling cider paired with a fresh salad, to a crisp light cider paired with spicy Asian cuisine, hard cider fills the food pairing niche between wine and beer. If you’re interested in exploring the world of ciders, you’re very fortunate to have an ever widening choice of import and domestic ciders to choose from.  A noteworthy player in the American Craft Cider arena is Blue Mountain Cider Company with their Farmstead Hard Cider and Dry Creek Hard Cider.  For Imports, it gets no better than Aspall Dry English Cyder made with a blend of "base" cyders and light sparkle.  For the "serious" side of cider, look no further than Domaine Dupont Cidre Bouche Brut, an old-school French cider maker.

 

Creative Commons License With fall comes cider by Brewforia Beer Market is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at brewforia.com.